Earlier this year, American Family Insurance ran an enter-to-win to give away a Sporting KC road trip. Jeff Carlson was selected as the winner and received a free trip for him and three friends to Sporting KC's October 16 road match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Below is a recap of Jeff's trip to California.
On Friday, we flew out to San Jose via Denver, and after settling in at the AMAZING hotel, we found our way up to San Pedro Square for lunch, at which point we made our way to an Old West Saloon. Before the game, we had some BBQ and drinks in Avaya Stadium's "Chairman's Club" and were offered the chance to get pitchside with Ashley Green, which was pretty cool. While down there, we also stumbled upon [Sporting Club CEO] Robb Heineman and got to shake hands with him. As a supporter, I love getting to see him as often as we do, not just at home games, but at road games as well.
Avaya was a great stadium and an amazing upgrade from their previous home, but it's certainly no Sporting Park. I love the slope of the seats and how intimate it is, but the open end of the stadium and lack of roof detracts a bit from what it could be. While the game itself left a bit to be desired, one of the highlights for us was getting to see USWNT star/Dom Dwyer's wife Sydney Leroux hanging out in our section. Without hesitation, she ended up taking pictures and chatting with fans for the entire game, which was such a nice gesture to see from someone of her status.
On Saturday, we woke up, grabbed coffee and breakfast at a great, local cafe before heading over to the Caltrain station, where we'd hop on one of their Baby Bullet express trains to San Francisco. Once there, we rode their historic street cars up the Embarcadero, where we walked around Pier 39, a major tourist attraction. Here, we grabbed lunch at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. with a table right on the San Francisco Bay, and then walked up the hill to visit the old Ghirardelli factory and store.
Our next stop was to take a trip on the city's iconic Cable Cars, where we would ride through the city until the end of the line at Union Square. At Union Square, we'd grab some dinner at a sports bar where I could watch my baseball team, the Chicago Cubs lose to the New York Mets. After dinner, we hopped a ride on another of the historic F-line streetcars to the San Francisco Symphony's Davies Hall. Here, the SF Symphony brilliantly performed an all-Russian program of Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Mussorgsky under the baton of guest conductor Susanna Mälkki. Following the performance, we took Caltrain back to San Jose, where we ended up back at the hotel for the night.
Sunday morning, we decided to remain rather low key, given the travel day ahead of us. Our morning included yet another trip to the local cafe and resting by the hotel's rooftop pool. In the afternoon, we made our very first trip to In-N-Out Burger, before spending some time outside of another local coffee shop with a view of the San Jose airport's runway. Our return trip involved landing in Salt Lake City in the midst of a thunderstorm, and hopping on a brand new Boeing 737 from SLC to Kansas City. By the time we all got back home and into bed, it made for a Monday morning that came all too early, but it was absolutely worth it. Win or lose, the opportunity to go watch this club on the road in a beautiful new stadium and in a great city is one I'll take any day.